The SAIC Solution
January 31, 2007
I have known Dr. Beyster for more than four decades, and have long admired him—as a scientist, a manager, and as a person. In building SAIC, Dr. Beyster proved what I have long believed: that decentralizing decision making as much as possible can transform organizations for the better. The widespread delegation of authority practiced at SAIC—coupled with the power of employee ownership—was an unbeatable combination, and it was directly responsible for the company’s great success. This book provides a rare glimpse of the inner workings of Dr. Beyster’s highly effective business practices, and it is essential reading for anyone who hopes to build a business that makes a profit—and makes a difference.
Melvin R. Laird
U.S. Secretary of Defense (1969-73)
Counsellor to the President for Domestic Affairs (1973-74)
Nine-Term Member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1952-69)
Currently serves as Senior Counsellor for National and International Affairs, The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc.
The SAIC story needs to be told and Robert Beyster is the one to tell it. It is a success story of technical innovation, entrepreneurship, employee ownership and great business practices.
William J. Perry
U.S. Secretary of Defense (1994-1997)
A must read for those interested in improving productivity of their employees in a global economy. Dr. Beyster truly created large scale employee ownership in the United States.
B. R. Inman
Admiral, U. S. Navy, (Ret.)
There are two visions of how companies become great. One view is that the CEO creates the success, rightfully earning huge sums when the company does well (but strangely, often earning huge sums even when the company does poorly). The other view is that workers create value when they make key decisions and share in the firm’s success through employee ownership. SAIC is the exemplar of the “workers make value” modern business. THE SAIC SOLUTION is a valuable reminder that firms can be great by doing what is right, and offers lessons how to do it. Boards of directors, CEOs, and shareholders: Read this book and ask if your firm could do better operating the SAIC way.
Dr. Richard Freeman
Herbert Ascherman Chair in Economics, Harvard University
When the respected founders of today’s leading high-tech companies were still in grammar school, J. Robert Beyster had already figured out that sharing ownership with employees would be a critical part of building a company where people worked together at solving problems in teams, backed with knowledge and research. This is a detailed, practical, and visionary description of the company that emerged, just as relevant to the current generation of entrepreneurs as to the next.
Professor Joseph Blasi
School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University
At SAIC, Dr. Beyster led a talented team of scientists and engineers in addressing some of the country’s most complex and challenging technical problems in support of national defense. These are truly amazing accomplishments, and anyone who knows the history knows that Dr. Beyster’s ideas, vision, and personal example were central to SAIC’s success. Many have tried to imitate his style and organizational strategy, but no one has succeeded with such magnitude.
Dr. Anthony J. Tether
Director, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
It’s not often when a brilliant scientist is also a brilliant entrepreneur. It’s even less common for this same person to have the unique skills needed to take the business they founded and preside over its continued growth for an extended period of time. Dr. Beyster is one of these rare individuals, and the company he founded and grew—SAIC—is a living testament to the validity of his sometimes counterintuitive approach to business.
Richard C. Atkinson
President Emeritus, University of California
The SAIC Solution is an inside look into the growth and dynamic culture of the America’s largest employee-owned research and engineering firm. Dr. J. Robert Beyster chronicles how his “people first” culture allowed SAIC to leverage its intellectual capital and stimulate transformative research with an empowered and elite team of scientists and engineers. The SAIC Solution is a valuable resource for prospective entrepreneurs and business leaders interested in learning the benefits of decentralized decision-making and employee ownership.
Carl J. Schramm
President, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
A fascinating account of how an outstanding nuclear physicist left a promising career as a scientist to form a unique multi-billion dollar employee owned company. Should be required reading for any potential entrepreneur contemplating a new approach to forming any successful enterprise.
Harold M. Agnew
President General Atomics
Director Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory
The SAIC Solution is a rare and fascinating study of an employee-owned enterprise, enormously innovative, enormously successful. Once again a lesson in the power of a shared vision, the power of innovation, the power of inclusion, and the power of leadership.
Chairman, Leader to Leader Institute